Force India driver Adrian Sutil insists that the team can beat Renault to fifth place in the constructors' championship through the final five races of the season.
The gap between the two teams following the British Grand Prix at Silverstone back in July had been 53 points, but a strong run of form from Force India in recent races means that gap is now down to just 22 with five races left to run.
Force India heads to Suzuka this weekend buoyed by its best result of the season last time out in Singapore, where Paul di Resta took sixth and Sutil crossed the line eighth to add twelve points to its championship total.
With the team continuing to improve, Sutil said he felt that Renault can be caught before the season draws to a close and said he felt Force India was putting strong foundations down to build on for 2012.
“Things look pretty promising right now,” he told the official F1 website, “and yes, I think it is possible [to catch Renault]. We had a tough start and only really got into gear some races into the season. But, obviously, now we are on a good path. For me it is better to start weaker and get stronger in the course of the season than the other way around. We are now in a good position - and given the fact that there will not be so many technical changes in 2012 my guess is that we will also be competitive next year.”
The German added that he hoped the team could build on its recent form, which led to Sutil saying prior to the weekend that the VJM04 is the best car he has had so far during his time in F1.
“My hope is that it stays that way because fact is you need both cars in the points if you want to bridge a 22-point gap - and then get that extra point that gives us the lead [over Renault],” he said. “Of course Suzuka is a very different track to Singapore - so we have to wait and see - but my guess is that we will be competitive over the weekend. Our upgrades that we brought to Singapore worked very well, so there is no reason we shouldn't do well here.
“With the next upgrade for the Indian Grand Prix in three weeks we should be well off until the end of the season. For me it is pretty cool being able to race against the big guns - and fingers crossed we will be able to do that as well in the next couple of races.”